Your Sunday Sermon Notes: 4th Sunday after Pentecost (N.O. 14th Sunday)

Too many people today are without good, strong preaching, to the detriment of all. Share the good stuff.

Was there a GOOD point made in the sermon you heard at your Mass of obligation for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost (14th Ordinary in the Novus)?

Tell about attendance especially for the Traditional Latin Mass.  I hear that it is growing.  Of COURSE.

Any local changes or (hopefully good) news?

Some (cross-posted) thoughts on the readings…

Entropy, in physics, describes the measure of disorder. In the entire universe there is a rise in disorder as, slowly but surely, energy dissipates. You know how this works in daily life. When your ice cube melts, heat, energy, goes into the ice, not cold into the air, even though if you put your hand near the ice the air is colder there. The air’s heat is going into the ice, not the other way around. The movement of energy into the ice agitates and loosens the tightly packed water molecules so that they become more disordered and take on a liquid water state rather than solid icy state. More heat and the molecules become more disordered, get even farther apart, and become steam. Eventually the heat dissipates, redistributes, and droplets form.

This will happen, at galactically large and infinitesimally small levels, until all energy, call it heat, is evenly distributed and has nothing else to affect, thus leading to what has been called the “heat death” of the universe. The cosmos will become so disordered, energy so evenly distributed, that entropy can no longer increase. That’s when changes come to an end and perfect (but still disordered) chaos results. By the way, time is sometimes called “the measure of change.” If nothing is changing, is that the… end time? In terms of physics, perhaps. I’m no expert. I believe that the Lord will return once the Restrainer stops restraining. Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev 22:20) Until then, every click of your mouse, every blink of your eye, results in a redistribution of energy.

Or, to tweak the environmentalist extremists, by breathing and thinking, you are killing the universe and the demon Pachamama can’t stop it.

Connect all that with what we read in Genesis, not a book that describes scientifically how creation happened but rather that and why it happened. In Gen 1:2 in Hebrew the “eretz… earth,” …

Was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit [wind, breath, ruach] of God was moving over the face of the waters.

The ordering of the cosmos then began, systematically, according to God’s plan.

The Hebrew that describes the disordered state is tohu wa-bohu, which can mean a whole tool shed of things. In one way, let’s call it TWB, it can mean “emptiness” and therefore “vanity” which comes from the root for empty. Tohu is used in Isaiah for “vanity.” Some rabbis, personifying the state, thought of TWB in terms of “bewildered and astonished” which is a formless, disordered mental state. In the Jewish Kabbalistic tradition TWB could be “everything as one without differentiation.” These all well describe the “heat death” state of the universe once entropy has done its distribution. The end would look very much like the beginning.

Enter St. Paul.

On this 4th Sunday after Pentecost, we have Romans 8 in which the Apostle to the Gentiles waxed eschatological, about the end times, when everything will be unmade, and about a “new creation.” In this chapter Paul connects humanity to the larger created universe (Greek ktisis). Let’s call it “the environment.” When the “end” comes, what will happen with the created universe?

Paul makes a distinction between a “new creation” (“the glory that is to be revealed” v. 18) and the “old creation” (the sufferings of the present life, vv. 19-21). In Pauline thought, these are not merely sequential, that is, a destruction of the old and then a wholly new creation. The two are fused together in the person of Christ. In him, they overlap. He is at the intersection of the old and new creation.

Paul, too, talks about the created universe as if it is a person, indeed a woman, waiting, groaning in birth pains (v. 22). What is it waiting for? The apokalypsis, the “revelation of the sons of God” (v. 21), by which we mean not what the sons of God will reveal, but rather the revealing of the sons themselves.

Why would the created universe, in a manner of a person, look forward to the end times, the destruction of the old creation? Because the new creation will be so much more than the old.

Just as we must pass through death to come to the resurrection and glory, so too all the material cosmos will pass through the unfathomable elevation of all creation. Mankind, the pinnacle of material creation, will rise and the material universe will “rise.” “Creation” will be set free from the bondage of decay. The Original Sin disordered not only humanity, but all creation. The Resurrection means that all creation will rise. The birth pangs of a “mother nature” aim at the resurrection and a new creation.

The Son, the divine logos, through Whom all things visible and invisible, the whole of the cosmos’ material as well as the spiritual realm, were created, took our human nature (created) into an indestructible bond with His divinity (uncreated). When He rose from the disordering of death, we rose. So too, in the end times, because of Christ, there will not be “heat death of the universe.” There will be a new creation. And since death will have been well and duly conquered, perhaps there won’t be a need to measure disorder any longer, no entropy.

Mankind and Mother Nature will have found their goal and perfection in the Risen Christ in the heavenly liturgy singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” before the throne of God in perfect dynamic, infinitely love-charged order.

There’s a great quote from Dom Guéranger about this reading, which even refers to atoms:

When the Spirit moved over chaos, he adapted the informal matter to the designs of infinite love. Thereby, the various elements, and the countless atoms, of the world that was in preparation, really derived from this infinite love the principle of their future development and power; they received it as their one single mission to cooperate, each in its own way, with the Holy Spirit; that is, cooperate in leading man, the creature chosen by Eternal Wisdom, to the proposed glorious end,—union with God. Sin broke the alliance; and would have destroyed the world… A violent state—the state of struggle and expiation has now been substituted for what, in the primal design of the Creator, was to be the effortless advance of the king of creation to his grand destiny, the spontaneous growth of, what someone has called man, the god in the bud. Divine union is still offered to the world—but, at what a cost of trouble and travail! We may still enjoy the eternal music of triumph, and all the joys of the divine nuptial banquet; but oh! what a long prelude of sighs and sobs must precede!

What will all this look like? We don’t know. For some homework, take a look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1046-1048 which deals with this very chapter from Romans. Whatever form it all takes, the knowledge of what is to come must fill every believer’s heart and mind with hope and joy. This is the hope we are waiting for: the revelation, apokalypisis, of the sons of God.

Someday, it will all come to pass, and every disorder, every tear, will be wiped away.

This Sunday the Church also gives us the account in Luke of the calling of St. Peter, appropriate this year on the heels of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

At first glance, the readings from Romans and from Luke might not seem to be connected.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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One Comment

  1. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Father absolutely knocked it out of the park today.

    Part 1: Friday before last, the Supreme Court revisited the issue of the murder of unborn children. Late that afternoon a large number of people came to protest at the state capitol (a stone’s throw from the Cathedral). About 930, several of them came up to the Cathedral. Father expressed gratitude for the police protection. These people were furious and seemed quite dangerous. While Father was away this past Friday evening, another priest in the rectory told him there was a similar, though smaller, disturbance then.

    Part 2: Bespectacled Father recounted that when he was very young, his eyesight was perfect, but in grade school it very gradually deteriorated – so slowly that he had no idea that his sight was no longer perfect. His teacher noticed because he had a near-perpetual squint.

    Part 3: Something akin to that loss of sight has happened to our culture. This is largely the work of three nineteenth century men: Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Their ideas influence even many good people today because they have become so pervasive. Marx denied the existence of anything other than the material and promotes envy and class warfare. But the consumer culture is also largely materialist, even if it doesn’t use Marx’ terms and even if it falls short of his worst excesses. Freud worked to disconnect sexuality from its moral context. Aside: a story from Bl. Fulton Sheen. Bp. Sheen had met a bishop who lived in the Soviet Union. Bp. Sheen asked if he could send books and if the books would be censored. The other bishop said they certainly would be censored since every package from the United States was given close inspection. Bp. Sheen asked why that was. The answer: the US is the world’s biggest producer of pornography and the even the murderous Soviets wouldn’t tolerate that filth. Father noted this story was from nearly 60 years ago and things have only grown worse in that regard. Nietzsche reduced human existence to the will to power. We see that in road rage, in climbing the corporate ladder and, so sadly, in killing the unborn.

    Part 4: The protesters the past two Fridays weren’t just shouting about abortion. Quite a bit of what they said was sharply blasphemous against the Eucharist. It’s unlikely that many pro-abortion people even know what Holy Church teaches about the Eucharist, so it is evident there was not only human will behind the protests, but demonic will also. Father mentioned that he and a seminarian were in the Church rather than the rectory when the first protest occurred. they went up one of the spires and prayed the rosary.

    Part 5: Contra Marx, the Lord Who will be on this altar in a few more minutes embraced poverty for His life on earth – indeed the incarnation itself was an adoption of poverty beyond our ability to comprehend. Contra Freud, the Lord lived His sexuality fully in accordance with the Divine plan for it. Contra Nietzsche, He did not cling to power, but gave up His very life.

    Part 6: Through the Eucharist we partake in the divine work of the Lord. The harvest is vast, even in this neighborhood, but the laborers are few. Please pray for guidance as to how you can carry out this life and death mission.

    He closed (and had a brief prologue) with a few lines from the T S Eliot poem Choruses from the Rock

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